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Recipe: Kimchi

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MAGICAL KIMCHI

This  ain’t a bowl of mere fermented vegetables. It’s Kimchi. It’s magical. It’s origin is centuries old. But it was sent to space on board Soyuz with South-Korean astronaut Yi So yeon.

It was declared ” vitally important to the morale of Korean troops” (President Park Chung Hee).It’s been cited by Health Magazine as one of the world’s five “healthiest foods” and it dates back to the period of the  Three Kingdoms (37 BC‒7 AD.

Till today, it’s a very central part of the Korean meal. It is served as “Banchan” a collective name for small side dishes served along with cooked rice.

On my very first trip to Korea, I’m fortunate to not only taste kimchi in the finest three Michelin starred Korean cuisine restaurant but also blessed to get a taste of “vegan” kimchi in  a monastic meal ritual cooked by a monk in the mountains. And finally actually got to make the kimchi myself, in the finest kimchi making class of Korea…with Master Lee and two other brilliant chefs.

IN KOREAS BEST RESTAURANT

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At the best of the best La yeon withChef Sung il Kim and Yaeeji Kim. 

I’m on top of the world. In every sense of the term. I’m dining in three Michelin starred Layeon perched on the rooftop of  Shilla Seoul, the luxury powerhouse.

The gracious and stately Shilla stands behind Seoul’s  medieval city walls but continues to  reign supreme. La Yeon interprets Korean cuisine with great care and sophistication. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of  Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with  banchan and the most addictive umami rich kimchi.

I’m  not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the everhelpful Yaeeji Kim.Highest quality ingredients, authentic flavors and creativity infuse the dishes… from mellow and soothing to royal-cuisine Hot Pot here.

BLISSED TEMPLE MEAL

 I m in  heaven and didn’t even have to die to get here… Just drove four hours in snow to reach the beautiful Naejang mountains. Can spiritual vegetarian meditative monk s food  be so seductively gourmet and varied? It sure is  I’m Tasting blessings… literally too.  All this at  the fabulous formal multicourse  monastic meal ceremony (barugongyang) The  lovable loving and friendly monk.

At Cheongjinam Temple.  We  sit on the floor with empty bowls baru in front of us. And as if by magic the silent servers glide in and fill them up. Making food and partaking in it is part of the meditative process in the temple and here, they eat only what they farm and make on site. Amazingly gentle and vibrant flavors and textures seduce . We wash the dishes after the meal with the water in each bowl and walk out in a single file.

We move in to the dining area and our eyes and taste buds are luxuriously  memorably  pampered. After that  lunch, monk Jung Kwan takes us on a fascinating walk to see her storage facilities where her “jangs”, sauces and kimchi are being fermented. Since garlic, onions are not used it is these fermented pastes that add a zing to her  vegetarian masterpieces.

lovable inspirational monk for delicious blessings which we tasted too. If this isn’t heaven what is?

Note:  A unique and blissed out treat. And to be lunching with Koreas finest gourmet chefs, Mingoo Kang ( chef Michelinstarred Mingles)

 Hyunseok Choi (chef of ever popular Choi)

Jinpyo Kim, CEO Plating Company

All this made possible thanks to the lovely  Editor in chief of Tasty Cookbook,Eunsil Jang.

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Jinpyo Kim 
Hyunseok Choi 
Monk Jeongkwan 
Mingoo Kang 
Eunsil Jang 

KIMCHI MAKING CLASS

Its  a dream come true. Not only to learn   kimchi making from Master Soyoung lee,but to do so with my own hands and then to have the privilege of a home-cooked lunch by  her. Kimchi making is done in winter (when the ingredients are available) and its all about bonding and a wonderful family feeling as we chop the vegetables and massage the spices into them. All this with Chef Choi who’s doing pathbreaking research in fermenting and Chef Heesuk Cho a  professor in Korean cuisine. Not only have most of the great Korean chefs trained under her but her restaurant (I had an amazing meal here) continues to inspire many others.

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Learning from the maestros Master Lee, JungYoon Choi (centre)  and chef Heesuk Cho.

It’s all thanks to the super helpful and amazing JungYoon Choi, a chef with 20 years of experience working in Spain, Australia and Korea. Trained at Alicia Foundation and El Bulli and is now executive chef of the Sempio Korean Fermentation Culinary Research Center in Korea. with top chefs and gastronomy-related professionals to research on Korea’s fermentation food culture. She very generously shares the authentic recipe for the kimchi.

 Kimchi

Kimchi
 Magical kimchi.

Main ingredients

     -Cabbage 5ea

     – Coarse Salt 7cups

Side ingredients

– Chives 200g (Cut 4cm)

     – Leeks 200g(Cut diagonally)

     – Red Brassica juncea 100g (Cut 3cm)

– Chopped raw shrimps 100g

– Chopped Sea staghorn 100g

– Radish 2kg (Cut 5cm)

Spices

– Crushed Chili pepper 6cups

– Chopped Garlic 1 1/2 cups

– Chopped Ginger 1/2 cups

– Salted shrimps 1cups

– Anchovy liqueur 1cups

– Sugar 1/2cups

– Coarse Salt 1/2 cups

Recipe

  1. Mixed all the spices and ingredients. (Let this ripen for 30 minutes.)
  2. Rinse pickled cabbage in cold water to remove moisture.
  3. Ready to the seasonings between the prepared cabbage.
  4. Store prepared Kimchi in a container.

The best tasting kimchi is stored in room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavor.

After that delicious home style lunch, we all get the fabulous kimchi to take home. As Choi says “my mother will be thrilled with this kimchi, for her and all of us, it is more valuable to receive this than an Italian designer handbag” That’s how magical kimchi is!!!

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Review: BOTECO

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Brazil in BKC? Would  the cuisine be authentic? I was sceptical. And then the globetrotting foodie family Mehrotra pointed out that they’d dined at Brazilian Chef Guto Souza’s restaurant “Go with the flow” in Goa and that it was deliciously on point. And that  he was behind BKC’s Boteco too.  I was excited to dine there but all good things take time.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!

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At BOTECO: delicious togetherness, Seema, Anushka and  Jaideep Mehrotra.

Review: CIN CIN

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I’ve done it again and again. Over the years, studied Italy by traveling on my belly through all it’s twenty regions with their varying cuisines . I call it “the butter equator” ( it divides Italy in two) one half uses more fat and butter and the other more olive oil. And I love both halves. So when I heard that Cin Cin is serving up food  from all parts of Italy, I was excited and  landed up with discerning gourmets.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.

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Raising a toast at CIN CIN with Manasvi and Pragya Jaiswal , Namrata Jaykrishna and Aniket Parikh.  

Review: THE QUARTER

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Rejuvenation. Revival. Restoration. (Trumpets please!) Mumbai’s century old historic Royal Opera house after being closed for a six year renovation is now  ( trumpets again!) alive and kicking and singing and cooking. And in all this, playing centre stage is the live music and the gracious venue, actually all four of them (al-fresco restaurant, a cocktail bar, café and jazz bar).

Read my full review on whatshot.in

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At DINE AT THE QUARTER:  with Firoza Moos and Meher Davis.

NATURE LOVERS GOURMET PARADISE

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This is the ultimate. It doesn’t get any better than this. Dining with nature, in nature, around nature gets redefined here. It’s a nature lovers gourmet paradise… and Im in seventh heaven. Sea, trees, forest, cave, stars…the worlds most unique dining experiences here. This Paradise is actually located on Thailand’s fourth largest but least populated island, Koh Kood – just one hour by private cessna plane flight south-east of Bangkok. Lers begin with the stars…

ASTRONOMY WEDS GASTRONOMY

Im tasting stars! Here in this remote and sensationally beautiful Thai island, many a magnificent  dinner based on cosmic cycles and Biodynamic viticulture  is redefining gastronomy. Do you see the huge telescope in the photograph? visiting astronomer and well-known scientist, Dr. Massimo Tarenghi used it to explain the relationship between the Cosmic/Lunar cycles and the pattern of water, earth, air and fire on our planet.  Brilliant chef Kengo Tomita’ creates  food  to match these rhythmic cycles and the knowledgable beverage maestro Melroy Fernandes pairs it with  unique biodyanamic and organic wines. As we dine on the lunar deck, time stands still in this magnificent back to nature Soneva Kiri surrounded by the shimmering Andaman sea. Love their philosophy of S.L.O.W.(  Sustainable Local Organic and Wellness) life. And blazing global trails are the golden earted super achieverts Sonu and Eva Shivdasani. Their concept of intelligent luxury dazzles. It recognises the ability for luxury holiday making and care for the environment to co-exist with perfect ease. And here, its not just about serving up delicious experiences but also educating about the philosophy of Bio-dynamism and Sustainability.  From identifying a marriage of food and constitution, counting the moons of Jupiter and peering at the graceful halo of Saturn’s translucent ring and dining accordingly… And my learning continues!

TREEPOD DINING

This unique Treepod Dining experience  takes fine dining to new heights. Comfortably seated in a bamboo pod, we are  gently hoisted high up into the tropical foliage of Koh Kood’s ancient rainforest. Along with the forever helpful Manjit Ghosh and creative chef Kengo, we  gaze out across the boulder covered shoreline dancing with gentle waves, and we savour gourmet delights. And guess how these are delivered to us? Via the zip-line acrobatics of our personal waiter.

PICNIC CRUISE

Ooh I love Picnics. And on a speedboat in the sparkling blue Waters of the Andaman sea it takes on a whole new flavour. Organic picnic lunch and refreshing juices et al. Can also  rise and shine to a luxurious boat ride around the cove to view the spectacular sunrise breakfast of fresh breads, fruits, meats, cheeses and  freshly brewed coffee too.

MUSHROOM CAVE LUNCH

Mushroom lovers (count me in ) this is your paradise. Unique private dining experience for specially designed around the resort-grown mushrooms. Dining in that beautifull silent mysterious cave while chef Kengo served up his masterpieces is an unrivalled treat..

The main dish is prepared in front of me  and health and wellness benefits of mushrooms also explained.

P.S. Other than these unique dining experiences in nature…two other passions of mine are served up. Yoga and the finest chocolates.

My other favorite four letter word is yoga. This is my first flyingyoga session whuch I learn from  dr Dinesh Singh after he does a clinical bioimpedence test and advises puriti. Juices. Liquids and an energising meditation work. And no! its not about denial If this isn’t paradise what is? Would you believe this? A chocobloc with premium chocolate room eat as much as you can AND totally free too.  There is a  “wall of ice cream” in a custom built glass freezer with over 60 flavors from the indulgent classics to the more adventurous.  And the finest wines, rare spirits too… I do an educational and fun tasting with maestro Melroy Fernandes …but that’s another story.

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Treepod dining…gourmet heights with Manjit Ghosh and chef kengo.
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Organic picnic on the sea.
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MUSHROOM CAVE DINING…with chef kengo.
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UNIQUE MUSHROOM DISH
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Cosmic gastronomy  Astronomer Tarenghi, Melroy Fernandes and Chef kengo.

INDIAN SUPERSTARS WOW THE WORLD

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Stop press. I report from gastronomy’s seventh heaven…what else can a city be called when it has the second largest number of Michelin stars in the world?  And not only is this stunningly beautiful seaside city of San Sebastian  the nurturing ground for these awesomely brilliant chefs but (aptly enough) hosts the world famous food conference  Gastronomika.

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GASTRONOMY-KA FEAST

High-octane discussions and talks by leading chefs, real time tastings while the cooking is taking place,  cooking classes, pintxo tours and more. The chefs from the third and fourth best restaurants in the world (Joan Roca and Mauro Colagreco)  share their secrets. At the glittering launch event,  Juan Marie Arzak the father of modern Basque cuisine graced the occasion, Michel Bras was felicitated by the dynamic director Roser Torres (who sportingly wore an Indian salwar kameez).Also sharing their knowledge and experiences  were many an awesome international chef. And to top it all, our very own Indian chefs were the guests of honour.

Together, they served up a delicious overview which was mind-blowingly comprehensive and at the same time personalized. India’s thousand-year-old tradition and the latest avant-garde innovations glittered with equal intensity.

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FIRST TIME EVER…

First time ever. An Awesome star cast of  award winning Indian chefs from around the world got together. Ive attended many an international conference, but never has there been such a constellation of superstar Indian chefs.

Each one a maestro in his own right gave the world a taste of incredible India. Literally too.  Happily ive not only dined at each ones superb restaurants in London  Bangkok Delhi Chennai Mumbai and Sanfrancisco but also given them  our very own Times Food Awards and applauded them as chairperson of the Indian  subcontinent of  Asias50best  and Worlds50best  Restaurant academies. Each one dazzled through their presentations and cooking demonstrations held in the huge auditorium of the  sprawling and well-equipped Kursaal .

Crowned Asias best chef  three years in a row and  the worlds7th best, Gaggan Anand enthralled the audience as he shared his secrets and cooked up his Indian progressive magic. Presenting  the philosophy and diversity of our cuisine was Manjit Singh Gill.

,the treasure house of knowledge Ayurveda and cooking. From San Francisco, Michelin starred Quilon’s Srijith Gopinathan kept us fascinated with his presentation of “India de luxe” As did our other Michelin starred  chef Sriram Aylur of London’s Quilon on “Extreme spices of the South”. Yet another Michelin starred chef  Vineet Bhatia  of Indego ‘s fascinating presentation  on “harmony and complexity” was followed by the deliciously riveting one  of the only Indian restaurant (from India) on Asias 50 best list, Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent’s talk and demo on  “Indian emotional avant-garde”.

The secrets of the North: “Dum” cooking were wonderfully revealed by Dum Pukht’s  Gulam Quereshi.

Exotic flavors of the South were brilliantly presented by Praveen Anand of Daksin as was “Tandoor explosion” by  Bukhara’s J.P. Singh Bombay Canteen s  gifted Thomas Zacharias  presentation on  “Wild India”  was eye-opening. “European language, Indian feelings” was the fascinating subject of Masala Library s bright young chef Saurabh Udinia’s talk.Team incredible India received thunderous applause. Well deserved. Kudos.

 SINCERELY VEGETARIAN

Timoori Alu (1)
Through it all, we were delighted at how each and every chef cooked and served up atleast one dazzling vegetarian dish. From Manish Mehrotra’s chat patta chaat with a twist to Royal Vega’s Varun Mohan’s “Timoori aloo”  . The highlight  is that not only Varun  himself vegetarian but Royal Vega our only purely vegetarian pan Indian fine dine restaurant.  He shares with us the recipe he demonstrated in the Gastronomika.

RECIPE.. TIMOORI ALOO

 Serve: 4

½ kg              Baby Potato

2 cup              Greek yoghurt plain

Salt         To taste

½ tea spoon    Fresh lemon juice

1tea spoon      Green chilies paste

1 tea spoon     Ginger paste

½ tea spoon    Timoor freshly pounded (Himalayan Pepper)

½ tea spoon    Red Chili flakes

1 tea spoon     Cardamom powder

¼ tea spoon        Nutmeg powder

¼ tea spoon    Mace powder

1 cup              Cream

2 Table spoon Ghee

2 pieces   TejPatta

¼ tea spoon    Cumin seeds

½ cup    Onions, finely chopped

¼ tea spoon    Saffron, dissolve in a tea spoon of warm water

Preparation:

Wash, pat dry, prick cut potatoes into halves

Boil  with salt until  tender.

Drain and cool.

In a bowl add yogurt, lemon juice, ginger paste, green chili paste pounded timoor, red chili flakes, cardamom, nutmeg, mace powder, salt and cream, mix well.

 Marinate potatoes in this mixture. for 35 – 40 minutes.

On medium heat, in a heavy bottom pan, put ghee tejpatta, cumin, stir 30 seconds, saute onion.

Add marinated potatoes. Bring to boil, stir. Cover. reduce heat. cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle saffron. Serve.

 

 Arzak Family

P.S. Aptly enough, I was taken to lunch to KM.0 (hold your breath)   a pure vegetarian restaurant  by  Gemma Moliner and dream team. It served up delicious and amazing creations. And ofcourse I feasted on Michelin starred restaurants…what a line up…Arzak (Juan Marie Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak thrill) Mugaritz, Akellare, Mirador de Ullia…Was dazzled by them. As by the Gastronomika and our very own team Incredible India.

Mumbai Dazzles in Dubai

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Mumbai shining: Faarah Mehta Shewakramani, Rita Karanjia Mehta and Liza Mehta Vyas at Coya.

Delicious news! Mumbai is trailblazing and showing the way to Dubai. In more ways than one. Our very own revered and feared, media baron (Blitz)  the late Russy Karanjia’s grand-daughter Faarah Mehta Shewakramani’s pioneering  and fully booked up elective educational academy is  the talk of the town. It is infusing culture, art and even  gourmet (love that)  knowledge  . High profile editor Rita Mehta Karanjia makes time from her hectic  media and celebrity management work,  to be the supportive mother.  Who would’ve thought that a dinner at  a world famous Peruvian restaurant in Dubai would be all about shining the spotlight on Mumbai and India? Over the vibrant, fragrant and colourful dishes, I discover that Lilavati hospital in Mumbai is named after my other guest, the talented Liza Mehta Vyas’s philanthropic mother. And as though all these Mumbai connections were not enough, not only is Coya owned by the Indian Waney brothers but even the executive chef is Indian. Jai ho!

My Cup of Hollywood Tea

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(sitting) Ben Trodd, Kabir Bedi, Chef Chris Ford, Lauren Dutton Breen (standing) Adam and Melissa Bedi at the Pretty woman hotel.

Excuse me but I’m getting high on this high tea and exquisite patisserie. Over eight decades of Hollywood history is  distilling itself in this “Pretty woman” hotel in Los Angeles. Superstars such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor have all lived in Beverly Wilshire (where Pretty woman was shot) Each one of my companions are interlinked to it too. This is the very first hotel that  Our very own Bollywood and Hollywood star Kabir Bedi  made Beverly Wilshire his “Home away from home” in 1977 ( when he moved to Hollywood and shot for james Bond et al) He is In LA as part of his whirlwind nine city concert tour (he plays sutradhar). Along with him is his talented son Adam Bedi who is an expert on special effects for Hollywood films and his lovely wife Melissa,  an expert on makeup for Hollywood. We feast on patisseur extraordinaire Chris Ford’s sweet creations which dazzle and delight.The charming and dynamic  Ben Trodd, helms nine luxury hotels, spearheads this Hollywood landmark. Also with us is the  highly efficient and forever helpful “pretty woman” Lauren Dutton-Breen.

Kabir is the first Indian on the Oscar Academy jury. Loves desserts (like I do).  He is crystal clear about the fact that  Calories “must be worth having” I couldn’t agree with him more. Chef Fords desserts are “Oscar worthy”